Wilson Combat Acquires New Ultralight Arms

Matthew Moss
by Matthew Moss
Wilson Combat Acquires New Ultralight Arms

New Ultralight Arms, LLC, manufacturers of lightweight bolt action hunting rifles, will be joining Wilson Combat’s family of companies. The transition will see the production of New Ultralight Arms rifles move from West Virginia to the Wilson Combat plant in Arkansas. The move is part of Wilson’s expansion with the announcement of new facilities and production made last year.

Wilson Combat @ TFB:

Here’s Wilson Combat’s announcement in full:

Bill Wilson is proud to announce the acquisition of the assets of New Ultralight Arms, LLC in Granville, WV. Melvin Forbes’ New Ultralight Arms (NULA) has been the leader in high quality, extremely lightweight bolt rifles since 1985 and is a perfect fit for the Wilson family of companies. Prior to Melvin’s NULA rifles, an accurate 5# rifle chambered in one of the .308 family of cartridges was considered impossible.

Production of NULA rifles will relocate from West Virginia to the Wilson Combat plant in NW Arkansas in the coming months. Initial product offerings will be the Model 20S (chambered in .223 Wylde, 300 HAM’R and .350 Legend) and Model 20 (chambered in .243 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm08 Rem, .284 Win and .308 Win). With further plans to extend offerings to include Model 24 (chambered in .270 Win and .30-06) and Model 28 (chambered in 7mm Mag and .300 WM).

We are pleased that Melvin will be supplying us with all the necessary technical advice needed for a seamless transition, continuing his legacy of building the highest quality, lightest weight rifles on the market. Melvin plans to continue to be available to discuss his fine “Melvin” rifles over the phone. Together with Melvin and Bill, and our skilled gunsmiths and machinists

will perfect the proven techniques required to achieve the highest quality and performance standard of these fine rifles.

New Ultralight Arms will join Chip McCormick Custom, Circle WC Ranch, Khumba Bush Camp, Lehigh Defense, Scattergun Technologies, Wilson Custom Ammunition and Wilson Combat that make up the Wilson family of companies.

Wilson Combat Acquires New Ultralight Arms

A separate announcement was also shared on NULA’s website discussing the history of the company and the future:

Since 1985 Melvin Forbes has set the lightweight hunting rifle standard. With rifles from New Ultra Light Arms, you only have to sight them in once, and they shoot all bullet weights to the same point of impact. By the end of the last century, their reputation was legendary, and Colt decided to buy Ultra Light Arms (ULA) and offer a less expensive factory version. But, shortly after acquisition, Colt went bankrupt and Melvin Forbes had to buy his company back.

Melvin continued making his rifles that were so appreciated, 75% of his first time customers buy another within 12 months. In 2013 Forbes had another chance to turn his creation into an over the counter, mass produced rifle. He partnered again and Forbes Rifles was launched. The outlook was grand but the new company could not build the rifles to strict standards Forbes demanded. Melvin stepped away and in 2015 Forbes Rifles folded.

Since then, New Ultra Light Arms (NULA) and Melvin Forbes have been doing what they’ve always done; building the pound for pound, best shooting, bolt-action rifle ever made. Finally, in early 2022 destiny arrived, and Melvin finally found the man and the company to continue his legacy. Bill Wilson and Wilson Combat will usher the incredible rifle that Melvin designed into the future.

“I have all the faith in the world in Bill Wilson, and this is a project whose time has come. I’m genuinely pleased that future generations will be able to enjoy the same rifle that I’ve been building, and that thousands of others have enjoyed, for almost 40 years.”

Melvin Forbes

“I feel so fortunate to know Melvin and to have been entrusted with the opportunity to continue his legacy of building the finest and lightest bolt rifles on the market. I’m also deeply humbled and honored that Melvin has put his trust in me and my team at Wilson Combat to continue his life’s work. He is basically turning his “baby” over to us and I assure him and all the past and future customers we won’t let any of you down.”

Bill Wilson

Find out more at newultralightarms.com and Wilson Combat plans to allow pre-order of the NULA line following announcement with estimated first production delivery in late fall of 2022. Check out www.wilsoncombat.com for further information.

Matthew Moss
Matthew Moss

Managing Editor: TheFirearmBlog.com & Overt Defense.com. Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. Matt is also runs The Armourer's Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms. Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news. Reach Matt at: matt@thefirearmblog.com

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2 of 9 comments
  • ORCON ORCON on May 24, 2022


  • Mehul Kamdar Mehul Kamdar on May 24, 2022

    Both Melvin Forbes and Bill Wilson have a dedication to quality. My only request to Bill Wilson would be for him to not discontinue the NULA big bore rifles in "African" calibers. There's a market for those as well. It might be small, but it is there. Apart from that, this transition is a good thing. NULA needs to survive. It is a great company.